November 10th, 2009
11:15 AM ET
10 years ago

WH denies Afghan decision made, as tensions flare with Pentagon

WASHINGTON (CNN)– White House National Security Adviser Retired Gen. Jim Jones issued a rare public statement Monday vehemently denying media reports suggesting President Obama has privately decided to send close to 40,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, as tensions between the White House and Pentagon appear to be flaring up over exactly what the president will announce.

"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false," Jones, who generally keeps a low public profile, said in a prepared statement Monday night. "He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."

The statement was issued shortly after CBS News' veteran Pentagon Correspondent David Martin reported that Obama has "tentatively decided" to send four more combat brigades to Afghanistan and several thousand more support troops starting early next year. That would bring the total number of new troops to close to the 40,000 figure originally requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Two other senior administration officials flatly told CNN that the CBS report and other similar speculation is false. The Associated Press reported Monday that Obama is "nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though not quite the 40,000 sought [by] his top general there."

The two senior administration officials suggested the information is being leaked by Pentagon sources who are trying to box Obama in by setting public expectations that he will send close to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan as McChrystal requested.

"People at the Pentagon are trying to force a certain outcome," one of the senior administration officials told CNN.

Both senior administration officials insisted Obama has not made any decision on troop levels in Afghanistan, noting the President has another meeting with his national security team on Wednesday to receive a final set of recommendations from the Pentagon brass. The senior officials said the president could not possibly make a decision on troop levels before even receiving the Pentagon's final recommendations.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday it's "doubtful" Obama will announce a troop decision before he leaves for a trip to Asia on Thursday. It's conidered unlikely that Obama will make such an announcement during his trip to Asia, which is largely focused on economic matters and separate diplomatic issues like North Korea's nuclear program.

Obama is scheduled to return from Asia on Friday November 20 after stops in Japan, Singapore, China, and South Korea. Officials have suggested the President could announce a troop decision sometime shortly before or after Thanksgiving, though Gibbs has vaguely said the decision will be revealed in "coming weeks" so as not to be pinned down.

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. the dude of truth

    bring our troops home

    November 10, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Republican'ts are so YESTERDAY

    I think maybe the best thing about President Obama being elected is that we finally have brains back in the White House! I know it's a hard concept for all of you George Bush "cowboys" to grasp, but when you're responsible for sending thousands of America's finest to go to foreign soil to risk their lives for their country, taking time to make the right decision is actually a GOOD thing!

    November 10, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Chuck, Tennessee

    During his campaign (over a year ago now for those who have lost track of time), Pres Obama said Afghanistan was a war of necessity that we must win. Now, after nine months in office, he still does not know what his strategy there should be? This is unacceptable. His administration should have been determining how to handle Afghanistan even before he took office.

    November 10, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Republican'ts are so YESTERDAY

    "dithering, dithering, dithering"

    Did any of you right-wing-nut-jobs ever even hear the word "dithering" before the Dark One used it???? Parroting Idiots!

    November 10, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Tim

    National Security Advisor Jim Jones was the source of the story. The White House came out and said anyone who makes the claim that they have made up their mind about how many troops to send to Afghanistan is uninformed.

    Obama's national security adivsor is uninformed about national security matters.

    Change you can believe in.

    November 10, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Doc SteveO

    It's not such a bad idea to send some Pentagonners over there. Some could be deployed, couldn't they? That might give the Pentagon pause the next time to be careful what they asked for. It would get some fresh blood in the Pentagon and send some serial, professional stuffed military shirts into the hot zone so they won't forget next time what it's really like.

    I really think it's a "Win" all the way around! Let's do it!!

    November 10, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. nola

    This decision needs to be made carefully. The general who is demanding more troops, is the general who lied about and glossed over the fact that Pat Tillman was killed by 'friendly fire' – there was never any enemy fire. His lies along with the Bush/Cheney lies disrespected the Tillman family, the country and the entire military. I have no trust or belief that this general has any clue what to do or how to do it and I wouldn't want him making a decision or recommendation regarding the life of my family member. The President needs to take is time and get all the information he needs before sending in any more troops.

    November 10, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Laura in KS

    I just have a quick question after reading many of these posts: How on earth is sending thousands of young Americans to Iraq and Afghanistan at the bidding of Gen. McChrystal "showing support for the troops?" Just wondering...

    November 10, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |

    Another failure for the Obama Administration. Will make it that much easier to dump him in 2012 when the Taliban retakes Afganistan.

    November 10, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Jeff of Peoria

    He's in a NO WIN situation now. If he gives him the 40000 that the General wanted 4 months ago, everyone will ask why it took so long to give them what they asked for. He could have done that a long time ago.

    If he doesn't give him what he wants then there better be a reason after all this time and NOT "I'M the COMMANDER IN CHIEF" !!!

    If he was a good politician, he would hgave promied the 40000 troops, had them ready and then called them off if they came to an agreement that they didn't need them. At least a bunch would have been getting ready.

    I'm not even an experienced or an INEXPERIENCED Senator from IL and knew to do that. Boy Scouts teach you that!!!

    Be prepared or get prepared!!!

    November 10, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. James Michael Roberson

    I think he should send more troops. It is just a shame that we had not approached the problem of getting Osama Bin Laden in a more intelligent manner and avoided the costly quagmire that we are now in.

    November 10, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. yuri

    The delay, though carpingly criticized by all and sundry, seem to make us nervous as well. In wargaming strategies, we realize all cards are dealt first on the table before anyone leads a card.

    November 10, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. shirley-atl

    To all of you who want the President to rush to send more military into this war, I ask why? Whatever we do there, or have done in Iraq will not work anytime soon because of the very people who live in these places. It will take years, if ever, for them to value human life enough
    to want to live in peace. Just as it took years for us before we learned to want something different than constant fighting. The sad part about all of this for America is that we seem to have forgotten the lessons we learned, and we seem to be headed toward war here in this country among our own people again. I hope I am completely wrong, but in all my years I have never seen hate and uncivilized behaviour as rampant as it is now.

    November 10, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. Joe Fattal

    By the time every is said and done, the United States will have in Afghanistan what the russian had, about 100.000 men. And what happened then, they lost and went back to Russia. I guess Obama wants to have more dead soldiers on his conscious. The military is a fighting machine, the generals that runs the military rather be at war than sitting in their office going through paper work. It's their job, to fight and ran a war, that sometimes it's not the only option the military have. President Obama should recall every fighting man in Afghanistan and Iraq, and send them where they are most needed. Right now, nowhere.

    November 10, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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